Stuart Middleton has retaken the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship lead with two victories this weekend at Croft. The Douglas Motorsport driver looked in imperious form during the first half of the weekend after he secured pole position and claimed both wins on Saturday. However, a retirement during race three on Sunday saw his rival Tregurtha take victory and close the championship gap to just four points. Lewis Brown experienced a great weekend and has climbed to third in the standings with Dan Harper and Seb Priaulx the standout performers in the rookie class.
With three races taking place at Croft, drivers knew they had to make full advantage of their two test sessions on Friday in preparation for the weekend. In the opening session, drivers got to grips with the circuit with Cameron Roberts looking impressive as he topped the times ahead of championship contenders Stuart Middleton and Dave Wooder. Olli Caldwell was the highest rookie driver for JHR Developments in fourth; he has previously contested a couple of test sessions but is yet to compete in a race weekend. The second session was also hotly contested with Stuart Middleton continuing his strong pace from the first session to finish quickest ahead of teammate Dan Harper and Dave Wooder. The HHC Motorsport pair of Charlie Fagg and Will Tregurtha rounded out the top-5 places.
Drivers were thrown straight into qualifying on Saturday morning with cool track conditions, especially in comparison to last year’s events in Yorkshire. Initially, it was championship rivals Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha who instantly went to the top of the times with Enzo Fittipaldi solidly placed inside the top-10. As the session progressed, drivers found it increasingly hard to improve their times with Middleton claiming his second pole position of the season ahead of Tregurtha and Wooder. Seb Perez was a strong fourth with Seb Priaulx rounding out the top-5 places. Charlie Fagg was sixth just ahead of rookie Dan Harper, with newcomer Olli Caldwell showing excellent pace in ninth.
The first race of the weekend was held early Saturday afternoon with Middleton looking to claim victory at his home track. Starting from pole position, the Douglas Motorsport driver made the best possible start as he led the opening lap whilst rivals Tregurtha and Wooder dropped to the rear of the field. This promoted Seb Priaulx to second with Middleton’s teammate Dan Harper into third. Lap two saw the retirement of Wooder following his early incident, with Dhyllan Skiba suffering the same fate a lap later. Both Cameron Roberts and Lewis Brown were making their way forward after disappointing qualifying session as both drivers entered the top-10 by the halfway stage of the race. A tame race in comparison to many Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship events so far this season was enabling Middleton to feel comfortable in the lead as he held a gap of a little over a second ahead of Priaulx. Despite a late challenge from the Guernsey driver, Middleton secured his fourth victory of the season ahead of Priaulx and Harper who took the first two positions on the rookie podium. Charlie Fagg finished fourth with the drive of the race arguably going to Olli Caldwell which finished fifth on his debut and collected a rookie trophy as a result.
Race two of the weekend took place later in the afternoon with Middleton starting on pole position following his victory in the opening race. Once again the Douglas Motorsport driver made a fantastic start and led the first lap from Dan Harper with Priaulx in third. After his excellent debut race, Caldwell had a tricky first lap and dropped down to 15th for JHR Developments. On lap three Dave Wooder’s recovery driver was looking good as he entered the top-15 after passing teammate Connor Grady. By the halfway mark, the TCR driver was into 13th with Will Tregurtha rising up to sixth after his troubles in the opening race. The second race of the weekend also saw relatively calm driving from the majority of drivers, however on the final lap a number of positions changed inside the top-10 with Charlie Fagg dropping down the order after contact from another driver. Out front, Stuart Middleton was showing champions qualities as he took his second victory of the day ahead of equally impressive rookies Dan Harper and Seb Priaulx. Lewis Brown finished fourth after an excellent start with Tregurtha in fifth and Tom Gamble rounding out the rookie podium places.
The third and final race of the weekend took place on Sunday with Lewis Brown on pole due to the partial reversal of the grid. Brown made a fantastic start and took a clear lead going into the first turn where chaos ensued as Middleton, Gamble, Hornby and Fagg all ended up in the gravel. Only Charlie Fagg was able to re-join the race with damage to his bonnet as the safety car was deployed to retrieve the stricken cars. This promoted Tregurtha to second and Geri Nicosia to third at the restart with the JHR Developments driver enjoying his best run to date. On lap four Dave Wooder made his way into the podium places but Nicosia stayed close behind the TCR driver as they hunted down the lead pair. After substantial pressure from Tregurtha, the second year driver took the lead on lap seven with Brown staying in the tyre tracks of his teammate. Despite being unable to break away from the field, Will Tregurtha held on to claim his fourth victory of the season with Brown on the podium for the fourth time in 2016. Dave Wooder ended a challenging weekend with a podium in third ahead of Nicosia who picked up his career best finish in fourth, with Cameron Roberts driving from the back to finish fifth. A great drive from Enzo Fittipaldi saw him pick up his first ever rookie win in eighth ahead of Dan Harper and Tom Wood.
Croft has once again provided some thrilling battles throughout the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship field with the triple-header of races throwing up some incredible races. Courtesy of his two victories, Stuart Middleton is back on top of the standings by just four points ahead of Tregurtha who took victory in race three. Lewis Brown’s consistent weekend has lifted him to third and you can’t rule him out of the championship fight with a number of triple headers remaining in the season. Dan Harper has solidified his position as the leading rookie with two further podiums ahead of Seb Priaulx who also took a pair of overall podiums at Croft. The next round of the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship takes place at Snetterton following the summer break.
Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship standings after Croft:
1st – Stuart Middleton 324
2nd – Will Tregurtha 320
3rd – Lewis Brown 257
4th – Dave Wooder 244
5th – Dan Harper 210
6th – Geri Nicosia 188
7th – Seb Priaulx 168
8th – Cameron Roberts 159
9th – Charlie Fagg 156
10th – Tom Gamble 138